My Dad celebrated his 80th birthday in February of this year. Prior to that time, he was an extremely young seventy-nine years old. He moved to Florida about 20 years ago because the cold weather in Central New York, was crippling him with pain from arthritis.

My Dad has been a diabetic for a very long time, controlling his disease with insulin twice a day. He had a massive heart attack ten years ago. About four years ago it was discovered during a routine blood test that he had Leukemia. Around 1997 he had Prostrate Cancer surgery which left him with an embarrassing incontinence problem

Yet, in 1998, he still worked as a Certified Orthotist (brace maker) parts from 2-5 days a week. He drove half an hour to get to work. He played golf twice a week and was very proud that he usually scored less than his age, playing as a rule, in the low 70’s.

He also does a good deal of crafting with plastic canvas and has become pretty good at using the computer. He never even touched a computer or a keyboard or use two years ago – but you should see him now.

In February of 1998 my Dad’s sister had a heart attack, was pretty much uncommunicative for about a week and then died. My Mom had surgery on her throat, and somehow got a blood clot in her leg. We almost lost her. A close friend got lung cancer and died. A neighbor, who had also become a good friend, had a heart attack and died. My husband (age 58) was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I was devastated. My Mom’s sister found her husband (also age 58) dead in bed. Mom got sick again. Dad had another heart attack. This all happened in about a half year or less.

I watched – unable to fix anything – as my parents aged from 60 to 90 almost overnight. One day they were both very active, vibrant, happy people. Seemingly in the blink of an eye, they became frail, fragile, tired, depressed, and stooped over -in a word – old.

Two people who loved showing me the town, were now content to sit by and allow me to fix meals for them, napping while I worked in their kitchen. I have spent my whole life trying to do things to please them and just now have found out all they really want from me is some of my time.

I try to send them an email daily. I never fail to tell them “I wuv you”. I send them silly cards in the mail. I take them cheap gifts. I refuse to wait until they die before I show them how much they mean to me. I’m not waiting ’til their memorial service to wail and cry and wonder if they knew how much I love them. I’m making damn sure they know it now.

They may have snuck over the line from young elderly to frail elderly overnight, but I simply refuse to wait until they are taking that last breath to let them know how much I care about them.

Copyright by Shaywardncr 12/01/1999